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Vice president relaxes, prepares to return for work

WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Dick Cheney rested at home Sunday, getting adjusted to his new pacemaker and anticipating a return to his White House duties on Monday.

”He’s relaxing and looks forward to being back at work,” said spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss. Cheney read and reviewed papers at the vice president’s official residence, Weiss said.

Cheney’s doctors gave him permission to resume his exercise routine, but Weiss did not know whether the vice president did so on Sunday.



The dual-purpose pacemaker was implanted in Cheney’s chest in an hourlong procedure Saturday at George Washington University Hospital.

It works like any other pacemaker by assuring that his heart does not beat too slowly. When it detects the beat slowing below a certain level, it sends a mild electric charge to pace the beat at a minimum level.



More dramatically, if the heart suddenly surges to a dangerous, high-speed beat, the ICD defibrillator kicks in. It sends an electrical jolt to the lower chamber of the heart and causes it to slow down. Sometimes this will cause the heart to slow too much and that is when the pacemaker turns on and adjusts the rhythm.

That jolt could be jarring for Cheney, said Dr. Douglas Zipes, head of the American College of Cardiology and an authority on irregular heart rhythms who has consulted with the vice president’s doctors.

”That is something he will feel, and patients describe it anywhere from a giant hiccup to a mule kick in the chest,” Zipes said on ”Fox News Sunday.”

”With an electric shock, it contracts all of the muscles, not just the heart but the chest muscles. too,” he said. ”Yes, it’s recognizable.”

Cheney’s cardiologist said there was less than a 10 percent chance that the defibrillator will be needed to calm Cheney’s heart. Zipes was asked how the device will affect Cheney’s daily life. ”Probably not at all,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he had no doubts about Cheney’s ability to serve in his job.

”Obviously this has been a matter that the vice president’s had to contend with for many years,” Daschle said on ABC’s ”This Week.” ”He’s done it successfully, and I have every expectation he’ll continue to do so.”

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said on CBS’ ”Face the Nation” that Cheney has been ”very, very vigorous in carrying out his office, and I expect him to continue to do so.”


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